Facebook Ban
Tajikistan blocked Facebook accessReuters

Tajikistan blocked access to Facebook on Tuesday after President Imomali Rakhmon and Central Asian country's leadership was criticized on the social networking site.

According to Beg Zukhorov, the head of Tajikistan's Office of Telecommunications, he has received many calls from citizens asking him to block Facebook as the platform was being used to make "mud and slander" comments about the top officials of the country.

"I received many calls from citizens of Tajikistan asking me to shut down this Facebook as a hotbed of slander. Unknown people there insult the leaders of the state. They are apparently being paid well for that," Beg Zukhorov said on the issue of banning the site as quoted by the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti.

Following the order, the three internet providers and three mobile operators in Tajikistan blocked access to Facebook, which has more than 41,000 users in the country. Beg Zukhorov also alleges that the users who posted disparaging contents were funded, but refused to name the funding sources. It was reported that the state telecommunications department was flooded with positive calls and messages after the report of Facebook ban.

"My phone has literally exploded with calls from grateful citizens who happily greeted the news of the closure of the site, and only a few will see this as a negative step," he added.

Beg Zukhorov also made it clear that the government was willing to talk to Mark Zuckerberg, if he came to Tajikistan. This is the second time that Facebook has received a veto in Tajikistan. Earlier in March, the site was shut for ten days in the country after it carried an article criticizing President Rakhmon. The latest crackdown came ahead of the election, which is expected to promise Rakhmon an extended reign of seven years. Rakhmon, in power since 1992, has been lambasted time and again for alleged media intimidation.

Latey, the internet activities of Tajikistan have been monitored by a special group of volunteers which includes teachers, students and citizens from different walks of life.